There are mixed reviews when it comes to the benefits of stretching, or if there are even benefits at all. I personally believe that it helps your over all health, so I am going to give you a little insight on the Pros of stretching. you can also see one of my lower body stretch routines here.
Stretching without question does help with flexibility or as I like to call it #Flexxibility. An increase in your flexibility results in an increase in joint range of motion, which could help to prevent injury. Your muscles are able to work more efficiently when you joints move through their full range of motion. Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps to increase circulation. This will help with muscle soreness. Lastly, stretching can help to alleviate stress. Stress can cause the muscles to contract and become tense. Gentle stretching exercises relax the muscles associated with stress. Stretching is a form of exercise in itself and has similar endorphin-increasing effects that help improve the way you feel mentally as well as physically.
Some suggestions for getting your stretch on:
Focus on major muscle groups. When you're stretching, focus on major muscle groups such as your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Sretch the muscles and joints that you use more frequently. Make sure to even out the body. For example, if you stretch you left quadricep do the same on the right.
Hold your stretch. Try not to bounce, hold the position in one smooth movement. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. I personally like to breath into the stretch. Meaning when you take a breath in, focus on breathing into the muscle you are on and when you breath out make an effort to release the muscle to go further into the stretch. I like to take 10-20 long breaths depending on the level of tightness.
Don't aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you're stretching, not pain. If it hurts, ease off a bit to the spot where you feel no pain and hold the stretch there.
Stay consistent. Stretching can be time-consuming and as I have mentioned in My Stretch Routine, it is not something we leave time for when we plan out our training. But when you do make it a part of your routine you will see more benefits and increase in flexibility. I personally try to go to yoga 2 times a week and stretch on my own. A good routine 2-3 times a week would be ideal.